F.I.R.S.T. marathon training program

Hi friends!

I hope everybody had a great start on their week 🙂

A few months ago i decided to run my first marathon which would be the Greater Manchester marathon on April 2016. I was so very excited and of course started researching and developing a training plan that could fit my schedule and running level. Unfortunatelly because of work i will not be able to race in this marathon since i will have to be in the USA at this time 😦 Despite the unscheduled turn of events though i had already found a pretty suitable for me training program which i still continue to follow -in a modified fashion – to train for all my other racing commitments (post and announcement – hint hint hint – are coming soon!)

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.27.13So down to business, I always like to see running through a scientific perspective. Everything makes better sense to me this way – occupational hazard you could call it… Form form and kinesiology to speed work and intervals. So it was only natural that i would look in the literature and see what i could find on marathon training. From the “Furman institute of running and scientific training” I give you the FIRST Marathon Training program.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.34.54.pngThis program is designed especially for – intermediate to proficient – runners that they want to complete their first marathon. According to their philosophy you can “run less, run faster” with the type of training they suggest. Previous marathon training results have shown that runners are able to run a complete marathon on only 3 days/week  running and 2 days/week cross training, and achieve their time goal.

According to these scientists PACE is the most crucial component of this short of training program. They suggest that training intensity is an essential factor for improving the physiological processes that will help a runner have an increased performance. All of the paces in this program, are based on the individuals BEST 10K race pace.

The program consists of 3 Key runs.

Key Run #1

  • INTERVAL training
  • faster pace than current 10K
  • 45 seconds per mile faster
  • the amount of rest/recovery is indicated by the program

Key Run #2

  • this is a TEMPO run
  • slightly slower than 10K pace BUT faster than average training pace
  • 15 to 30 seconds slower than 10K race pace

Key Run #3

  • Long run
  • determined by PMP (Planned Marathon Pace) pace
  • this run would be on a PMP pace + 45 seconds

This is how a Training program “sample” week would look like;

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.43.53

And here,marathon training FIRST, is where you can find the PDF complete 18 week program for free from the Furman Institute. If a beginner runner wants to follow the program experts suggest that they add a 4 to 6 weeks pre-training in order to be sure that they can tackle the first 8 mile long run.

Of course, like any other program it has its pros and cons and it all depends on what the runner is looking for.


  • helps with running burn out
  • great alternative for people who enjoy cross training
  • training less times a week makes a marathon training accessible even to busy people who want to race
  • you get an extra rest day


  • the work outs are fewer but tougher
  • people susceptible to injury might struggle to add speed instead of miles to their workouts
  • high intensity training can be challenging for non-well trained runner

So, the bottom line is that a training program is a very PERSONAL choice and every runner needs to thoroughly research every option before deciding, and to find something that first of fits their running level and also their way of life. I hope all fellow runners find this review useful!

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.40.40




6 thoughts on “F.I.R.S.T. marathon training program

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